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By Richard Nephew

How the Iran Deal Prevents a

Covert Nuclear Weapons Program

n July 14, Iran and the six-country Deliberate evasion of monitoring and
transparency measures, which any covert
group known as the P5+1 (China, program would involve, naturally makes
this job even more difficult.
France, Germany, Russia, the The subtle effectiveness of the
agreement may be most pronounced in
United Kingdom, and the United States) the provisions dealing with potential
covert activities. Critics have latched on
reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear to the issue of how much time it would
take for inspectors from the International
program that promises to end the 13 years Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to gain
access to undeclared sites, but this is
of escalating tensions that Tehran’s nuclear largely a straw-man complaint based on
an erroneous assumption that “anytime,
ambitions have caused. anywhere” inspections would be
achievable in anything short of a postwar
The deal, formally known as the Joint capabilities and ensure their monitoring. environment, such as the one in Iraq in
Comprehensive Plan of Action, is an Although media and public attention the 1990s.
impressive collection of restrictions, has often focused on the known nuclear By focusing on this particular issue,
restraints, and monitoring provisions program, experts generally agree that skeptics miss the fact that the rest of
applied to the Iranian nuclear program. it is the possibility of a covert program the agreement is geared to ensure that
Under the deal, Iran’s path to a nuclear that causes them most concern. Iran has no significant undeclared facilities can
weapon using declared facilities is a history of building nuclear facilities exist. This article will describe in detail
effectively closed for at least 10 years in secret and admitting to a range of the various provisions of the deal that

and in some respects longer. Tehran sensitive nuclear activities only after the serve as a check against the possibility
could attempt to produce nuclear fact. The agreement needed to address of covert sites by forming concentric
weapons material via the declared this problem. circles of protection. The article also will
nuclear program, but to do so would be At a fundamental level, this is address the few scenarios in which a
to risk almost immediate detection and tremendously difficult. It is difficult potential failure of the system could take
response. This is a result of a combination to prove the absence of something, place. In doing so, it will demonstrate
of measures that constrain Iran’s particularly in a country as large as Iran. that the likelihood of these scenarios is

Richard Nephew is a fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings
Institution. He was a member of the U.S. negotiating team with Iran and director for Iran at the National Security Council. He served as
the Middle East team chief and senior Iran nuclear officer in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the Department
of State from 2006 to 2011 and before that as special assistant for nonproliferation policy at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear
Security Administration.
Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (third from left), Chinese
Foreign Minister Wang Yi (fifth from left), EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (center), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
(third from right), UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (second from right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (right)
sit at a table at the Palais Coburg hotel in Vienna on July 6. The officials were representing the group known as the P5+1 in the
final stages of negotiations with Iran on the country’s nuclear program.

sufficiently small as to be implausible else that would risk the exposure of July 14 deal. These restrictions dictate
and therefore does not constitute a sound illicit activities. that any uranium coming into Iran go
reason to reject the deal. Among the needs of a covert through a procurement mechanism
proliferator, the first and foremost is that is enshrined in the deal. This
Defeating the Covert Option finding a way to obtain nuclear materials. procurement mechanism will govern the
In order to have a covert nuclear The uranium-monitoring provisions transfer of any Nuclear Suppliers Group
weapons program, Iran must address of the comprehensive agreement will (NSG) controlled or dual-use items or
three needs: access to nuclear materials, make it very difficult for Iran to do this materials to Iran, as well as any items
access to the equipment and technology without being caught. Under the terms that a potential exporting state may
to transform nuclear materials into of the deal, Iran will permit the IAEA determine could contribute to an illicit
weapons-usable materials, and time. to “monitor, through agreed measures Iranian nuclear program. Under the deal,
Iran also would need to have a proven that will include containment and a transfer is considered illicit if it does not
nuclear weapons design and viable surveillance measures, for 25 years, come through this mechanism.

means of delivery, but the longest lead all uranium ore concentrate produced Iran also can receive uranium as part of
time and greatest complication are in Iran or obtained from any other a swap of its enriched-uranium stockpile,
associated with the production of the sources.”1 As a result, Iran will not be able but any such swap would be declared
nuclear weapons material itself. To be to produce a secret stockpile of uranium by Iran and known to other parties in
truly covert, such a program should from its existing mines because such a the agreement. Skeptics may argue that
have minimal interactions with declared move would be detected by means of the Iran is capable of evading sanctions
Iranian facilities, which will be subject containment and surveillance measures and could similarly evade the rules
to inspections and monitoring. Thus, it that exist, which can be loosely described established in the agreement. Yet, there is
is likely that an entirely separate nuclear as a combination of seals and cameras. some historical evidence indicating that
fuel cycle would have to be created for Theoretically, Iran could seek to success at evasion should not be assumed.
this endeavor, in which there might procure uranium illicitly, but this would UN Security Council Resolution 1737,
be a sharing of knowledge between the be contrary to UN Security Council adopted in 2006, was the first resolution
declared and covert programs but little actions taken before and since the that prohibited Iran from importing
uranium. During the nine years since centrifuges and associated components production for use in a covert bomb. One
the adoption of that resolution, although and infrastructure for 15 years. With such design is the heavy-water research
there have been occasional concerns this kind of monitoring in place, the reactor currently being built at Arak, but
that Iran could obtain uranium or that IAEA would notice any attempt to divert under the agreement, it will be modified
its partial ownership of a uranium mine these centrifuges well before a plant to produce as little as one-eighth of the
in Namibia gives it license to import could be built. annual plutonium output of its present
uranium from that mine, there has not Instead of taking centrifuges out of its design. It is reasonable to suspect that
been any verified transfer of uranium declared centrifuge stockpile, Iran could Iran would seek to build a new heavy-
to Iran aside from fuel for the Bushehr instead decide to build new centrifuges. water reactor like the present Arak
power reactor. To do so, it would need to produce new design, given that it has some experience

[A covert enrichment path by Iran] would require

essentially replicating its current enrichment
program, which is a costly, complicated, and
detectable enterprise.

Assuming that Iran is able to procure rotors and bellows for these centrifuges, with it. Yet, Iran’s experience with the
the uranium needed to begin its among other parts and pieces. Because construction of the heavy-water reactor
clandestine program, it must be able to the agreement requires containment and at Arak does not give any credence to
modify the uranium into a form useful surveillance of the existing inventory of the notion that such a facility could
for weaponization—the second condition both rotors and bellows for 20 years, Iran be constructed without being noticed,
that clandestine proliferators must meet. would have to produce new centrifuge due to the long lead time required for
Generally speaking, this means Iran components using specialized equipment. construction and fact that the Arak
would have to convert the uranium from Yet, the deal guards against this route reactor was itself observed long before it
its raw form into material capable of being as well by requiring Iran to provide was completed, as was the heavy-water
enriched or into fuel for a reactor. This a declaration of all locations where production plant located next door.
step would require the construction of a centrifuge component production Reactors themselves require specially
new, covert uranium-conversion plant. could take place and to permit access designed parts and materials, at least
For the next step, it is most likely that to those locations to verify that illicit some of which Iran would probably have
Iran would seek to utilize centrifuge- production is not ongoing. Furthermore, to procure from non-Iranian sources.
based uranium enrichment in its covert the deal requires Iran to provide access In addition, reactors have unique
program. Iran has experience in uranium to the flow-forming machines, filament- construction signatures that can be
enrichment with centrifuges and in winding machines, and mandrels that spotted with intelligence satellites. It
the covert construction of facilities for are used for production of centrifuge is not impossible to construct a reactor
such enrichment, albeit with facilities rotor tubes and bellows. This equipment clandestinely—the North Korean-built al
that were exposed long before they is subject to continuous monitoring, Kibar reactor in Syria that was destroyed
ever became operational. In addition, including containment and surveillance. in 2007 by Israel is a case in point—but
centrifuge plants have fewer detectable If the equipment were to be diverted or it is more difficult. The Israeli ability to
signatures than nuclear reactors or spent misused, the IAEA would know. This spot and destroy the reactor before it was
fuel reprocessing plants. access will persist for 20 years. operational supports the idea that even a

Covert uranium enrichment would In sum, to have a covert enrichment carefully concealed reactor facility can be
require the construction of a new path, Iran would have to have a stopped before coming online.
covert enrichment facility, which is clandestine supply of uranium, a covert Assuming Iran could build a new
prohibited under the deal with the P5+1, uranium-conversion plant, a covert means reactor that produces weapons-grade
and outfitting with centrifuges. The of producing centrifuges, and a place plutonium, Iran still would have to
easiest supply of these is the stockpile to install and operate them. This would extract the plutonium from spent fuel.
of centrifuges removed pursuant to the require essentially replicating its current The absence of a spent fuel reprocessing
deal. Fortunately, the deal addresses the enrichment program, which is a costly, capability in Iran and Iran’s inexperience
possibility of centrifuges being removed complicated, and detectable enterprise. with spent fuel reprocessing technology
from storage, requiring continuous With respect to the covert-reactor make it unlikely that Tehran would seek
monitoring, including containment and path, there are reactor designs that could this path for a covert weapons program.
surveillance measures, of Iran’s stored permit Iran to maximize plutonium In fact, it could take Iran the full 15 years

that the reprocessing and associated spent issue of undetected nuclear procurements and the Fordow facilities before they
fuel restrictions of the deal are in place is discussed below.) were completed, without much of the
to learn enough about the technology Even if Iran obtained illicit uranium, access to be provided under the terms of
and to construct facilities capable of illicit uranium-conversion equipment, the comprehensive agreement. Should
performing the operation, minimizing its and illicit uranium-enrichment another such facility be detected, the
value to Iran while maximizing risk. equipment and constructed the comprehensive agreement provides
As noted above with respect to necessary facilities, it still would not be yet another tool to address it: required
uranium enrichment, Iran would invulnerable to detection. This points provision of access.
need to have a way of procuring items to the last requirement on the list cited Under the terms of the deal, Iran is
that it needs for work on a covert above: time. Every day an illicit facility required to provide access to undeclared
reactor program. To a large extent, operates is another day for a spy, a facilities if the IAEA requests such access
the procurement channel established wiretap, or a satellite image to catch the and suitable alternative arrangements
as a result of the deal ought to guard proliferator in the act. cannot be identified. This requirement
against this. Iran will be prohibited The construction and operation of is based on the implementation of Iran’s
from engaging in any procurement of these facilities and their associated additional protocol, which Iran will
items especially designed or prepared activities require time to achieve their begin implementing provisionally when
for nuclear uses without going through desired results; one weapon’s worth of implementation of the deal begins.2
the procurement channel. Iran will highly enriched uranium (HEU) is not The agreement specifies a process that
likewise be prohibited from procuring made in a day. A proliferator must have the IAEA request would set in motion
dual-use items listed by the NSG, as well enough time to ensure its facilities fulfill once the agency has learned of a potential
as any items that a potential exporting their function. If the proliferator fails covert site or undeclared nuclear-related
state determines could contribute to to have enough time, it runs the risk activities. This process includes the
illicit nuclear activities, unless Tehran of being caught early and having the provision of information by the IAEA
obtains these items through the approved attempt curtailed by diplomatic action to Iran on the nature of the suspicions
channel. Any identified procurement or military strikes. The United States prompting the access request. The request
outside the channel would be an and its partners have thus far detected could trigger a 24-day clock under which
immediate red flag once detected. (The the Natanz facility, the Arak facilities, Iran would provide the requested access


Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at a press conference at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on July 15. Zarif and
Ali Akbar Salehi (not pictured), head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, spoke after returning to Tehran from Vienna,
where they reached an agreement with the P5+1 on Iran’s nuclear program.
or the issue would be sent to the dispute comprehensive agreement, within six P5+1, Iran would be prepared to risk the
resolution process stipulated in the months, UN Security Council sanctions consequences of that deal being torn
agreement. Iran could head off a request would have snapped back against Iran for apart by its actions, consequences that
for access only if four of the eight parties such behavior. could include sanctions or military action.
to the agreement—Iran, the P5+1, and Second, although six months had Although this is conceivable in the event
the European Union—opposed granting passed since the Kalaye facility was of a near-term, regional security threat
access. Even then, the complaining state first identified publicly, with extensive to Iran, no such threat exists at present,
could still take up the matter in the modifications made to the workshop, with the possible exception of Israel. Yet,
dispute resolution process. The end result traces of enriched uranium still were as the existence of a covert program is one

[A]s the existence of a covert program is one of

the most likely prompts for an Israeli military
strike, it would not be logical for Iran to tempt fate
by engaging in such an activity.

of that process could be the reimposition, found in the facility. Heinonen’s own of the most likely prompts for an Israeli
or “snapback,” of UN Security Council, example tends to underscore the military strike, it would not be logical for
U.S., and EU sanctions and a resumption likelihood that Iran will not be able Iran to tempt fate by engaging in such an
of the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. to guard against contamination of activity. It is also possible that detection
Critics have argued that 24 days is every room of every facility in which of a covert site during the deal would
far too much time to grant for this undeclared uranium work takes place if it provide the impetus for U.S. military
procedure because Iran would be able is carrying out such work. It was probably action against Iran.
to use the time to cover up its activities. for this reason that when confronted Nevertheless, it is worth considering
Olli Heinonen, the former head of the in 2004 with incriminating evidence possible covert-path scenarios to identify
IAEA Department of Safeguards, has cited about undeclared work at the Lavisan potential points of breakdown and to
Iran’s renovation of the Kalaye Electric site, Iran decided to destroy the facility account for the possibility that Iranian
Company facility in 2003 as proof that completely. Satellite images taken before decision-making does not follow rational
Iran can rapidly dispose of the evidence and after the destruction underscore that or logical lines. Three scenarios are
of misdeeds.3 Heinonen noted that, two Iran was sufficiently concerned about worth evaluating here: a catastrophic
weeks after the IAEA requested access IAEA access and environmental sampling failure of the agreement, the current
to the facility, where Iran engaged in to essentially remove the location from existence of an undeclared nuclear
undeclared centrifuge experiments, it the face of the earth, taking three feet program in Iran, and the possibility
had been completely renovated, with new of topsoil with it.6 Iranian sanitization that Iran could seek to acquire nuclear
floors, walls, and air-handling systems. activities at Parchin show a similar weapons material or an assembled
The problem with this example is dedication to eradicating facilities rather weapon from another state.
twofold. First, Iran did not have only two than granting access for fear of what Catastrophic failure. It is possible that
weeks to sanitize the facility. The initial would result.7 each individual element of the agreement
public revelation of Iran’s clandestine fails catastrophically. In such a scenario,
enrichment program was in August 2002 Possible Failure Scenarios Iran would be able to obtain the materials
by the National Council of Resistance of As the preceding section outlines, and equipment it needs and to do so

Iran, which subsequently identified the although a theoretical opportunity exists without being detected by the IAEA or
location of the Kalaye facility in February for Iran to engage in a covert program, the intelligence apparatus of the United
2003. The IAEA was denied access at that the comprehensive agreement was States and those of its partners. In such a
time and permitted only limited access designed to make this opportunity far scenario, Iran would not be subject to any
in March 2003. In May 2003, the agency more difficult than it currently is. If the particular constraints and could engage
gained full access to the facility but agreement functions as designed, then in a breakout at its leisure.
without the right to take environmental a covert program is likely to be detected This is theoretically possible yet
samples from the site.4 Iran granted very early in the process. Iran’s awareness difficult. Iran is one of the most watched
permission to do this in early August of this risk creates deterrence for a covert intelligence targets for the United States,
2003, at which time inspectors noted that path being pursued in the first place. let alone U.S. partners in the region and
further modifications had been made to Scenarios predicting an Iranian in Europe. Moreover, past successes in
the site since March 2003.5 Even under covert program assume that having detecting such activities in Iran long
the most liberal of interpretations of the worked hard to achieve a deal with the before they reached fruition should
Action Team 1991-1998 / IAEA

Centrifuges found by an International Atomic Energy Agency team in a warehouse near Tuwaitha, Iraq, during the team’s
inspections following the 1991 Persian Gulf War are shown in this undated photo.

provide some confidence that the size now-declared program, as has been program by buying a nuclear weapon
and scope of what Iran would have to demonstrated by reports of material or the material for one. One such
do to make the attempt would lend itself shortages in Iran’s nuclear program for theory postulates that Iran and North
to detection. The access granted under several years. Korea, which have a long history of
the comprehensive agreement will help Moreover, asserting the possibility collaboration on ballistic missiles,
matters by assisting analysts in sorting of an existing covert program offers could collaborate to mutually develop
legitimate activities from illicit ones. For no guidance on handling the deal nuclear and missile capabilities, with
example, if Iran were detected procuring because such an allegation can never be each providing access to resources that
goods for an enrichment plant outside satisfactorily disproven. Policymakers the other cannot. For Iran, this could
the authorized procurement channel, can act only on what they know and include the covert acquisition of HEU or
then it would be a rather good bet that what they have good cause to believe. plutonium from North Korea.
the procurement is intended to support To do otherwise is to repeat the mistakes This scenario is an interesting
a clandestine effort. For intelligence of U.S. policy in Iraq in 2003, when it possibility but, as with an existing
analysts, eliminating legitimate activities was assumed that the Iraqis must have covert program, offers nothing by way of
as explanations could be very helpful had a covert program because they were guidance for how to interpret the deal.
in forming judgments on intent, as well not adequately assisting UN inspectors At a minimum, the deal prohibits such

as in establishing priorities for further to demonstrate that no such program transfers, as would Iran’s commitments
investigation. existed. With the benefit of hindsight, under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Notably, it would be a challenge for one can say that there was very little (NPT), which it joined in 1970.
Iran to procure for and construct the Iraq could have done to prove that If one is convinced that Iran would
relatively large covert program needed something did not exist. The only way be prepared to undertake such an
during the 10 to 15 years of the main out of this conundrum was by offering adventure, there is nothing in the public
restrictions of the deal. robust access, which the Iraqis were domain that can provide irrefutable and
Existing covert program. Iran may already loath to do. If properly implemented, the unambiguous assurance that no such
have a fully constructed covert program comprehensive agreement will remedy activity would ever be contemplated. One
and merely be awaiting the removal of this problem in Iran. might as easily suggest that Iran could
sanctions to reveal it. This is theoretically Buying a bomb or bomb material. It have a nuclear weapon already designed
possible but unlikely. Iran has had a is also theoretically possible that Iran and built, ready to be mounted on a
difficult enough time sustaining its could contract for its nuclear weapons missile tomorrow. It cannot be proved
that this has not happened, just that problem is to change the regime. If that comprehensive deals, Iran would not
no such activity has been detected and is one’s outlook, then it is fair to suggest restrain its production of heavy water
that, circumstantially, it would not make that the deal is poorly equipped to handle and might not restrain research on spent
much sense. The same argument could be this challenge. In making that argument, fuel reprocessing or construction of a
made about other countries but without however, one would have to explain how reprocessing facility. Construction of the
proof that it has happened. Policymakers any reasonably conceivable deal could Arak reactor would be restarted, giving
rarely have complete knowledge; they prevent that. Iran valuable experience that could be
have to make their decisions on the basis applied to a covert nuclear program.
of what intelligence reveals and what The Status Quo
logic suggests. A fair estimate of the value of the • Without the interim and
From this perspective, the transfer comprehensive agreement in addressing comprehensive deals, there would be

The transfer of a nuclear warhead or weapons-

grade material would be a risky proposition
for all concerned.

of a nuclear warhead or weapons-grade the problem of an Iranian covert no procurement channel monitoring
material would be a risky proposition program must include a comparison to what would come into the country
for all concerned. The transfer could be the status quo. There is no comparison that could aid a covert effort.
detected, prompting almost immediate possible between the comprehensive
calls for military strikes against Iran at a agreement and the two most extreme • Without the interim and
minimum. The associated signatures of failure scenarios—the existence of a comprehensive deals, Iran would not
such moves probably would be observed covert program at present and an Iranian be forthcoming with respect to access
through intelligence channels. Given the purchase of weapons-usable materials or requests, and skeptics could look back
existence of the Proliferation Security a bomb itself. No deal could definitively fondly at an opportunity for required
Initiative—a program launched by address these current threats. access within 24 days.
President George W. Bush to increase The more interesting point of
cooperation among states in interdicting comparison is the status quo—or, more Although none of these activities would
transfers of weapons of mass destruction precisely, the situation that persisted be permitted as a legal matter under the
and their materials and components— prior to the interim deal of November UN Security Council resolutions adopted
and the widespread presence of the U.S. 2013 because that would likely be the prior to July 2015, the entire discussion
Navy and partner navies in the sea lanes situation in the event of a collapse of of a covert program assumes that Iran
between North Korea and Iran, such the comprehensive agreement—against is not fulfilling its legal or political
transfers could be met with a military the risk of a catastrophic failure of the commitments. Notwithstanding these
response of boarding any ship involved.8 comprehensive agreement. facts, some opponents would argue that
As noted above, Iran already has made a the status quo remains preferable because,
commitment not to seek to acquire nuclear • Without the interim and without the deal, Iran’s nuclear program
weapons, including weaponization-related comprehensive deals, Iran’s provision would remain largely illegal under the
components, in perpetuity. Iran also has of information on its uranium Security Council resolutions. Yet, Iran
agreed not to seek to obtain uranium production would not be required. Iran has not fulfilled its obligations under

or plutonium metal for 15 years. Under also would not be required to permit these resolutions since 2006. Practically,
such a scenario, it is highly doubtful the IAEA to undertake any monitoring the legal prohibition has had little value
that there would be any defense of Iran activities concerning uranium in stopping Iran from having a covert
in the international community. Tehran production. program. The deal, on the other hand,
would be inviting attack by pursuing does much to prevent such covert efforts.
this option. Moreover, there is enough • Without the interim and Similarly, many opponents would argue
intelligence focus on Iran and North Korea comprehensive deals, Iran would that without the comprehensive deal,
that it is highly speculative to assume that not permit IAEA inventorying, let international sanctions would not have
either could pursue such an arrangement alone monitoring, of its centrifuge been relaxed on Iran, and Iran would find
without detection. components and the tools for itself under continued economic strain.
Finally, this threat does not diminish producing more of them. Yet, there is no compelling evidence
the value of the deal, except if one that such pressure has precluded covert
assumes that the only way to address the • Without the interim and activities in the past. Moreover, it is
Kazem Ghane/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong (left) shakes hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting in Tehran
on September 16, 2014.

precisely such strain that could convince ment over the status quo across the 3. Bill Gertz, “Ex-IAEA Leader: 24-Day
Iran’s leadership that its only opportunity board, offering at worst an improved Inspection Delay Will Boost Iranian Nuclear
for regime survival is to concentrate on opportunity to detect such activities. In Cheating,” Washington Free Beacon, July 21,
establishing a nuclear deterrent. doing so, the agreement will deter Iranian
The goal of the sanctions, which they cheating and make succeeding at it a
achieved, was to bring Iran to the table. virtually impossible task.
Nothing in the last 12 years of negotiating 4. Institute for Science and International
history with Iran suggests that sanctions Security (ISIS), “ISIS Imagery Brief: Kalaye
alone will compel Iranian capitulation. Electric,” March 31, 2005,
1. “Annex I - Nuclear-Related Measures,” n.d., publications/iran/kalayeelectric.html.
Conclusion para. 68,
docs/iran_agreement/annex_1_nuclear_related_ 5. IAEA, “Implementation of the NPT
It is inarguable that a covert path to
commitments_en.pdf. Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of
Iranian nuclear weapons would present
Iran,” August 26, 2003, GOV/2003/63, https://
the United States and its partners 2. The Model Additional Protocol is a

with a tremendous security challenge. nonproliferation agreement developed

6. ISIS, “Nuclear Sites: Lavisan-Shian (Lavizan-
It would undermine the terms of by the international community after
Shian),” n.d.,
the comprehensive agreement and revelations about the extent of clandestine
consequently prompt a re-establishment Iraqi nuclear weapons-related work after the
of intense sanctions pressure on Iran, 1991 Persian Gulf War. There is a standard 7. ISIS, “Nuclear Sites: Parchin,” n.d., http://
if not military action. Moreover, a format for the additional protocol for all
non-nuclear-weapon states that are parties to
covert program could spur additional
the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). 8. Air transfer would present different
proliferation in the region and beyond.
See International Atomic Energy Agency challenges, given that the air routes would
These are threats Iran would have to
(IAEA), “Model Additional Protocol to the involve flight over China. Yet, it is not in the
anticipate and manage before proceeding Agreement(s) Between State(s) and the interest of China to permit nuclear weapons or
with a covert option, probably International Atomic Energy Agency for the nuclear weapons material to transit its airspace.
precluding it. Application of Safeguards,” INFCIRC/540, If such a transfer were detected, interdiction
The agreement is a material improve- September 1997. cooperation from China could be arranged.
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